The Many Deaths of Jo Grant

Posted in Audio by - May 15, 2019
The Many Deaths of Jo Grant

Released October 2011

The central bond between the Doctor and his companions is rightfully at the forefront of many Doctor Who stories, highlighting how a being from an all-powerful and seemingly omniscient race can come to care not only for the sanctity of time and the universe at large but for another individual as well. Yet just as the Doctor has proven willing to sacrifice himself on countless occasions to ensure others have the opportunity to carry on, he likewise leaves an indelible mark on those he travels with, opening their eyes to an entirely new perspective and reinforcing the fact that sometimes, of all the actions available, sacrifice of oneself out of love and compassion is sometimes necessary. In ‘The Many Deaths of Jo Grant’ by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, that bond and conviction are put to the ultimate test as a mysterious spaceship materialises over UNIT headquarters and an injured Doctor returns to Earth.

An undeniable reason the Katy Manning entries in The Companion Chronicles are so engrossing and endearing is the genuine love for the programme and her time on it that she pours into each performance. It hardly matters that her iterations of her co-stars are understandably far from pitch perfect because she has such a profound warmth and energy in her voice that she wonderfully recaptures the intimacy of the era which the UNIT backdrop allowed even as the Earth faced invasion or the threat of destruction on a monthly basis. Jo has always been hailed as one of the most beloved companions due to the unabashed affection between the Third Doctor and her as she underwent quite a bit of development and became a much more confident woman as her time by the Doctor progressed, and Manning continues to leave her mark on the franchise with another stunning performance that showcases her magnificent vocal and emotional range.

Admittedly, the plot is rather thin overall as the many vignettes offered each end with Jo sacrificing herself to save the Doctor, but the effect is still a magnificently powerful one and a stark reminder of the dangers inherent to traveling and even associating with the Doctor. The concept of self-sacrifice is one that has been explored from an alien perspective multiple times previously, often with it being dismissed as confusing at best and nonsensical at worst, but the fact that the alien putting Jo through such emotional turmoil over and over again is actively learning from her experiences to understand how this method of action can make sense is a neat twist that ties perfectly into this particular era and Jo’s boundless compassion and morality. Rowe being the linking device among the different stories that feature the likes of a mysterious fungus on Big Ben, a space colony on the verge of collapse, and a cavern that is in fact a sentient creature provides a steadying if ominous hand throughout the confusion, and the four hundred deaths Jo has experienced in addition to the Doctor’s own sacrifices for Jo when he himself entered the mindscape generator underscore just how deeply these characters care for each other no matter how severe the stakes.

There is a certain degree of comfort and familiarity to the Jon Pertwee era, but ‘The Many Deaths of Jo Grant’ subverts any expectations and offers a thrilling tale that continues to change and surprise until the very end. While the overall plot itself is fairly threadbare with dialogue that is not necessarily the most memorable, the genuine emotion that Katy Manning brings to every breath elevates this to something quite unique and powerful and helps to create another thoroughly enjoyable outing for this magnificent range.

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